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The Case for Acid Bath Politics

THE BOSTICK REPORT-Compromise is not a dirty word. It’s a vital lubricant of progress. Too often, the partisan rhetoric of politics obscures the pathway towards compromise and in many ways that’s because voters view issues of policy and debate from an adversarial position. I wholeheartedly believe that good government is one driven by the middle ground. 

That being said, our nation is at a stalemate because of several key problems that will undermine our future unless they are resolved. Those policy debates are immigration reform, gun control,healthcare, and the odd concept of corporate personhood. On each issue, there is an entrenchment in both political parties that is clearly not going away. 

Approaching these four issues from the mindset of compromise has been a failure, even on our President’s key legislative achievement, healthcare. Both the design and implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act was rooted in unsuccessful compromises by Democrats. For anyone doubting this, just look to the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case where a private, for-profit corporation sought and won exemptions previously given by the President to non-profit religious groups who balked at the contraception requirements in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

Clearly, many of us who had preferred single payer, universal healthcare but had accepted the compromise of the exchange system are now becoming ever more certain in our belief that healthcare as a profit-driven industry and as something connected to employment is wrong, both morally and in practical terms. It is immoral for a nation as wealthy and powerful as ours to permit healthcare to be expensive or inaccessible. 

It is similarly immoral, but also impractical, for our immigration system to continue limping along as it has been while undocumented parents are deported, leaving children hopelessly and angrily behind. I say impractical because it is entirely unrealistic to believe that our education system can sustain so many children pining for their parents and it is unrealistic for anyone to believe that those children will leave this country. 

I’ve seen them in the classrooms, withering away and lashing out, emotionally eager for love, acceptance, and home. What that home is, they can’t identify, but it’s likely more a sense of security in the embrace of their parents who have often been sent “back home”, a nebulous location somewhere else. 

Frequently, conservatives will say “good, go home then”. But, again, how is that practical? Where is their home? I think it’s here. You might say it’s there. The reality is that it doesn’t do us any good to moralize against them or whether they should “go home” because that debate doesn’t affect the fact that they are here. It’s this disconnect between immigration as a policy and immigrants as humans in the Republican perspective that really concerns me. 

Culture, government, and language don’t determine how a parent instinctively loves a baby. Across all paradigms and demographics, we love our children and hope the best for them and so it is through that lens that I see thousands of children arriving at our country’s borders and it is within that perspective that I cringe at people angrily shouting at buses of kids, saying go home. 

How have Republicans become so intolerable to the humanity of immigration? How have they lost the plot so harshly? The ways in which these people have lashed out at children fleeing places like Honduras, the peacetime murder capital of the world, boggle the mind in a similar way that their views on gun control confound me. 

In their heart of hearts, conservatives believe that the best way to securing our community is to increase gun ownership. Put more guns in the hands of good guys and if everyone had a gun, then people wouldn’t try to hurt you because they would know that you would kill them. 

The ideal world is one in which everyone has to carry a gun to be safe.  That’s a fundamental contradiction to my ideal world. I want to live in a place where you don’t need a gun. Ever. 

I also believe that is wrong to stand in the middle of the road to yell at a bus full of children who braved unspeakable horrors and lost their parents to come here because it is that bad in their native country. 

Republicans also don’t see the danger in allowing corporations to have the same access to the Bill of Rights that people do without any of the responsibilities of a person. When do corporations have jury duty, go to prison for breaking the law, or pay taxes? Seriously, they don’t and yet they are now permitted to practice their business according to their religion and wield their inequitable access to capital as political speech. 

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As Democrats, we respect diversity and try to leave enough room for every other culture. It is in our nature to seek out compromise so that every voice at least feels it has had the opportunity to be heard. 

But I believe there exists an intractable difference of perspective and core values on these four issues; immigration reform, gun control, healthcare, and corporate personhood. There is no room for compromise because each policy issue represents fundamental ideals that are contradictory. 

Republicans will never yield on gun control. On immigration, their own approach – to “send them all back” and then fix policy, is itself contradictory because it is broken immigration policy that prevents Central American immigrants from being sent back immediately. 

We see how our compromises on healthcare are playing out. We can’t afford to compromise on corporate personhood. 

And so it is, with somewhat of a heavy heart, that I propose that it is time for Acid Bath Politics. No more compromises on these issues. We must scorch the earth in these battles and go for the throat; play winner-take all politics, and Obama should take the mantle of the Progressive warrior. Bare the Republicans of the sheen of their compassion and expose them for their heartless positions before their self-destructive positions ruin us all.


(Odysseus Bostick is a Los Angeles teacher and former candidate for the Los Angeles City Council. He writes The Bostick Report for CityWatch.)





Vol 12 Issue 55

Pub: Jul 8, 2014